Good grades are the best reward for an unwavering dedication to learning. But achieving an excellent academic record isn’t easy, especially when you’re miles away from home.
International students often struggle with studying for a variety of reasons. These include anxiety, lack of time management, and extreme pressure.
Studying preferences are unique to each student and there isn’t one single strategy for every course. If you want to study effectively during your stay abroad, try out some of these study tips to help you out:
Organize Your Study Materials and Resources
Organizing your materials and resources tricks your brain into action. The very act of organizing helps release tension and eases your mind into calmness.
There are many ways to organize your study materials, one of which is using stationery to store, label, and segregate your items.
If your resources are in your devices, you can start by filtering each material based on the subject. You can also try deleting unnecessary files and creating folders to have quick access to PDFs and eBooks.
Follow our list of tips below so you can practice better organization with your study materials:
- Invest in solid file organizers. There are a lot of options you can choose from, but always pick the ones that will fit all your documents. Use a different organizer for various types of paperwork (e.g one for school, one for personal documents). Don’t forget to also get some label makers to mark your organizers.
- For your study area, consider installing hanging shelves. Student accommodations are often cramped in terms of space. The best thing you can do is maximize the space that you have on your walls. You can also opt for hanging cabinets if you don’t want your stuff to always be on display.
- Consider subscribing to cloud-based storage. Most of the time, the free storage you get will already suffice for your school needs. However, you may run out of space in the long run once you start storing media files as well. If your study program requires a lot of digital storage, you may want to sign up for monthly services.
Establish a Study Schedule
Scheduling your study time isn’t fun, but your grades will thank you in the future. Creating a study schedule helps you visualize your time and optimize it.
To establish a study schedule, start by categorizing your materials into subjects. For each subject, determine which lessons you must prepare for and highlight essential topics.
You can also make use of bookmarking materials to mark sections of your book. For example, you can use tabs to track important quotes or findings that you can use during class discussions.
While it seems easy, establishing a study schedule can actually be super challenging. Follow the pieces of advice we have below so you can craft a solid study schedule:
- Find your productive hours. There should be certain times of the day when you are at your best form—physically and mentally. Make sure to wrap your schedule around these hours to maximize your energy. If you can’t find your most productive hours, try to at least find which time of the day you prefer to study.
- Practice with small habits first. Building a routine doesn’t happen in just one night. It takes weeks, months even, to develop a routine that you can stick to. Always start with the small things you can improve like waking up early. You can also slowly lessen your screen time with the devices you have.
- Have a study buddy. Having someone to learn with offers a lot of great benefits. It forces you to always try harder each time. Other than that, you’ll also have someone else to hold you accountable for your actions. If you ever find yourself losing control over your routine, your study buddy can get you back on track.
Set Your Goals
Goal setting is key to achieving real results. Setting your goals gives you a vision of what you want to attain with your studying efforts.
Start with small and specific goals. Maybe you’d want to get better scores on weekly quizzes or earn more points in your essays.
From these small goals, proceed to move to bigger ones once you’ve achieved them. Write down whether you want to obtain a 90% score on your major exams or achieve a certain GPA score.
Your goals will shape your studying experience. Make sure to set the right ones without pressuring yourself in the process.
Goal setting must always be grounded on realistic efforts. We’ll help you out with this matter using the following tips we have below:
- Create a list of your goals. As mentioned, make it as specific and as achievable as possible. Write down a specific date when you plan to achieve this. Then, in another table, a list of potential challenges that may affect your progress. Afterwards, create another list that outlines your plans to overcome these challenges.
- Your list of goals must include personal goals and academic objectives. You can create a separate list for each set if that’s what you prefer. But they typically go hand-in-hand for the most part. Certain personal goals may affect your academic goals and vice versa. Ensure that you don’t compromise anything by prioritizing one task over the other.
- Reward yourself. Whenever you achieve a task – no matter how small it is – give yourself something in return. This isn’t an act of instant gratification, it’s just a simple way to show recognition for what you’ve accomplished. It’s all about celebrating small wins. Plus, with all the academic stress, a little treat won’t hurt.
Find a Conducive Study Environment
Finding a suitable study area is easier said than done. Having a conducive study environment is a different case for everyone, considering the differences in accommodation.
If you’re in a dorm or flat of your own, dedicate an area specifically for studying. You may need to choose an area away from your bed to avoid the temptation to take quick naps.
You can also join group studies or stay for some time in a café. This is a great alternative, especially for students who don’t have private zones.
Here’s a list of things you must look for in a study environment:
- Quiet or with as little noise as possible. You don’t want to get distracted by unnecessary noises around you. If you want to study at a café, pick the non-busy hours. The tiny background noise of chatting is pretty tolerable anyway.
- Don’t bring every study material with you. Organize your stuff and bring only your laptop or notebook. You don’t have to study everything all at once. At best, you must only select materials for one subject and focus on the others for next time.
- Never underestimate the power of great lighting. Without light, your eyes will immediately get tired, forcing you to stop reading. So, always choose an environment with great access to light so you can read in peace and not in the dark.
International students often struggle with effective studying. Fortunately, there are many strategies that could help them. For more study tips, flip through our stories here at MSM Unify.